Okay, I almost hate to say it, but I think I might—just might—have stumbled upon a sure-fire method for keeping those pesky squirrels out of the bird feeders for good. My friend Susan says that the only solution for squirrels in bird feeders is a “dose of lead poisoning,” but this is far less violent. And it is cheap too, with only two simple ingredients from the nearby discount store.

 Over the years we’ve tried just about everything, including baffles, cables, fancy and expensive “squirrel-proof” bird feeders, decoy feeders, and yes,  even that “dose of  lead,” but the squirrels just kept coming. It is, after all, their job to get that birdseed, and you can hardly blame them for that. But it  sure is infuriating when they clean out those feeders over and over again. We  even hung a couple feeders on the side of  the house two flights up off the ground, and the squirrels still managed to get to the birdseed.

But this time I mixed up a spicy-hot potion of red pepper and petroleum jelly. That’s it, that’s the secret weapon. I know that the birds don’t mind the red pepper, but the squirrels hate it. I’ve seen birdseed with red pepper mixed in for sale for the very purpose of keeping squirrels out of the mix. It is pricey and often difficult to find. My fix is easy and cheap, though a bit messy. The gooey mixture was spread on any and all squirrel approach paths. In one case I smeared the gook on the pole that holds up one feeder. On another it was the edge of the roof where the little devils would drop down from a nearby limb, and then jump down to the feeders on the side of the house. I even smeared the horizontal metal bars that hold those feeders.

All it takes is one visit from any of our furry friends to teach the lesson. So far, no returns, and the birds are happily munching. The 3 ounce jar of crushed red pepper was 99 cents and the big tub of generic petroleum jelly wasn’t much more. By mixing the two there will be plenty of the mixture to go around and re-apply where necessary for quite a while. It’s inexpensive and easy, and so far it’s working like crazy. Let me know if it works for you too!